#TBT: Arthur Ashe & Medication Compliance


As part of our “Throwback Thursday” blog series, we’re taking a look at a topic that’s currently in the news and tagging it with previous research, videos or commentaries in a relevant way. As the saying goes, “what’s old is new again” – and we hope you enjoy our wonky twist on #TBT.

With the Wimbledon Championship underway this week, it brings to mind one of the tennis greats: Arthur Ashe, who won the tournament in 1975 and later became a leading advocate for heart health and HIV awareness.

Following a heart attack and related surgeries in the early 1980s, Mr. Ashe began to speak out about the importance of heart health and, years later, about HIV/AIDS, which he had contracted from a tainted blood infusion. In 1984, NPC had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ashe on a public service announcement (PSA), "Medication and Your Good Health," about the importance of medication compliance.

The PSA (our “Throwback Thursday” pick this week), which ran nationwide on radio and TV, encouraged Americans to make better use of prescription medicines. The PSA featured Mr. Ashe and then-NPC President Mark Knowles playing tennis, staying active and explaining why medication compliance matters.

(left to right) Arthur Ashe and then-NPC President Mark Knowles

Medication compliance has long been acknowledged as a serious problem for the American health care system, costing billions of dollars in lost productivity, additional doctor visits, preventable hospitalizations, nursing home admissions, and even premature death.

There are clear benefits to patients who take their medicines as directed: compliance can help them stay healthy and avoid costly hospital visits. There are many reasons patients become noncompliant, such as forgetfulness, costs or unwanted side effects. But not all of the responsibility falls on the patient. Physicians and pharmacists also play key roles in improving compliance by engaging patients, and providing clear communication. 

NPC greatly appreciated Mr. Ashe’s generous contribution of time and effort to improving the health of the American people. In honor of Mr. Ashe, NPC would like to remind everyone that National HIV Testing Day is tomorrow, June 27.